Division of Juvenile Justice, Rehabilitation

DJJ high school graduations: Time for reflection, accomplishment and hope

Youth earn diplomas, GEDs to help pave way for brighter future

In June, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) held graduations at each of its high schools, awarding 124 diplomas and 23 GEDs.

  • NA Chaderjian High School has had 45 students earn diploma’s and 12 students earn GED certificates. 
  • OH Close (Johana Boss High School) has had 31 diplomas earned and 8 GED certificates. 
  • Ventura (Mary B. Perry High School) has awarded 48 diplomas and 3 GED certificates.

Each ceremony included speeches by youth, who thoughtfully expressed the meaning of the accomplishment and the growth that is possible through education and learning.

“What kinds of experiences will you create?” challenged youth Joshua Silver of Chad. “What kinds of memories will you make? When things don’t go as planned, strive and push forward no matter what life throws you.”

Determination and adaptability

That theme was echoed by Mary B. Perry High School Valedictorian Alexandria Ransom.

“Graduation is one more block in a wall of achievements – a door that opens pathways and strengthens us for what will come in the future,” she said. “The world may look dark and the path may look lonely, but if you open your eyes you will see a whole world in front of you.”

The keynote commencement speaker for the DJJ high school graduations was Dr. Renford Reese, a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona. During his speech, he urged the graduates to ignore the naysayers and “be the person you were born to be.”

Reese, a political science professor and prolific author, is a founder of the Prison Education Project. He’s also executive director of Project Rebound, which encourages incarcerated youth and adults to earn four-year degrees at participating California State Universities.

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, families were unable to attend the ceremonies. So, the CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications sent a video team to record the ceremonies. The videos will be edited, archived and shared with families and staff.

“Our goal is to support each youth so they earn their high school diploma while they are with us,” said Troy Fennel, Superintendent of Education.

“Enjoy this moment. You deserve it,” said DJJ Director Heather Bowlds to this year’s graduating class.

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